Climate Change Continues to Mess Stuff Up
In 2003, Ben Gibbard's electronic indie pop project The Postal Service once sang about how people would misinterpret global warming as a reward...
In 2003, Ben Gibbard's electronic indie pop project The Postal Service once sang about how people would misinterpret global warming as a reward for good behavior -- "Now we can swim any day in November." Half a decade later, any smidgen of that optimistic perspective deserts us as abnormally high temperatures mess all kinds of things up, including certain species' ability to reproduce.
The latest projected casualty: the tuatara, an ancient species of three-eyed lizard-like reptile in New Zealand. The tuataras still around today descended from the sphenodontian family, which first appeared 225 million years ago and included other awesome reptiles like the Diphydontosaurus and the Toxolophosaurus. Projected temperature increases suggest that by 2085, it will be too warm for females--which can only hatch in cooler temperatures--to be born.
This is sad, because tuataras are among our all-time favorite reptiles right now. They have a mysterious third eye on top of their heads, they can hold their breath for an hour, and they're both cold-blooded and nocturnal, a rare but bad-ass combination. They do have a life span of about a century, so we won't really be feeling the tragic loss of the tuatara for a while. But, we're stubbornly dwelling on how unfair it all is.
More immediately, temperature can affect reproduction for all kinds of animals, like pipefish and moths, and in Chesapeake Bay, it has already resulted in a sexually confused crustaceans situation. If you're not up for nine generations worth of tuatara panic, there are, already in swing, a number of temperature-induced reproductive oddities to freak out about.